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How to add a swap file
Posted by Mike C. on 03 January 2010 09:49 PM
Q. I need additional swap space to improve my system performance. How do I add a swap file to Linux system?

A. In Linux, as in most other Unix-like operating systems, it is common to use a whole partition of a hard disk for swapping. However, with the 2.6 Linux kernel, swap files are just as fast[7] as swap partitions, although Red Hat recommends using a swap partition. The administrative flexibility of swap files outweighs that of partitions; since modern high capacity hard drives can remap physical sectors, no partition is guaranteed to be contiguous. You can add swap file as a dedicated partition or use following instructions to create a swap file.

Procedure to add a swap file

You need to use dd command to create swapfile. Next you need to use mkswap command to set up a Linux swap area on a device or in a file.

a) Login as the root user

b) Type following command to create 512MB swap file (1024 * 512MB = 524288 block size):

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile1 bs=1024 count=524288

c) Set up a Linux swap area:

# mkswap /swapfile1

d) Activate /swapfile1 swap space immediately:

# swapon /swapfile1

e) To activate /swapfile1 after Linux system reboot, add entry to /etc/fstab file. Open this file using text editor such as vi:

# vi /etc/fstab

Append following line:

/swapfile1 swap swap defaults 0 0

So next time Linux comes up after reboot, it enables the new swap file for you automatically.

g) How do I verify swap is activated or not?
Simply use free command:

$ free -m
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